Scoparia dulcis: Sweet broom weed

Family: Plantaginaceae
Common name: Sweet broom weed, Licorice weed, Goatweed, Scoparia weed, Sweet-broom, Kallurukki, Riceweed

One of the most common weeds seen in backyards, gardens, roadsides and riversides in Kerala, Sweet broom weed has many medicinal uses. It’s an evergreen annual herb, with a green, branched stem.

They have simple green leaves, about 4-5cms long with a very short petiole, and is toothed around the edges. These leaves are arranged opposite to each other, or in whorls around the stem.

Small white flowers arise from the axils, the angle between the stem and the leaves. Flower buds are small and rounded, with a long stalk. Sweet broom weed flowers have green sepals and distinct white petals that are 3-5 mm long. Stamens are numerous and style is distinct.

These flowers then form rounded seedpods having a single seed inside. The seedpods are initially green, later turning brown as they mature.

Sweet broom weeds grow well in all kinds of soil, be it nutrient deficient or nutrient rich. They are seen in warm, tropical weather and good sunlight; commonly seen in Africa and India.

Though it is considered an invasive weed, it has many medicinal uses in Ayurveda and herbal medicine. They are used in treatment of a variety of illnesses like wounds, ear pain, tooth ache, stomach pain, vomiting, dysentery, jaundice, warts, fever, kidney stones, nausea, dizziness, ulcers, eczema, bruises. The leaves are said to have a cooling effect.

Sweet broom weed leaves initially taste bitter, but then turns sweet like liquorice. In Malayalam, the name Kallurukki, meaning ‘stone melter’, since the plant is used for treating kidney stones.

Propagation is through seeds, and happens very effectively, making it an invasive weed in many parts of the world.

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